University of Maine System Trustees Appoint Ferguson as Next UMaine President

Contact: Peggy Markson 973-3245 (mobile 949-1250)

AUGUSTA – This afternoon the University of Maine System Board of Trustees approved Chancellor Richard Pattenaude’s recommendation of Dr. Paul Ferguson as the next president of UMaine, the state’s flagship and land-grant university in Orono.

“Dr. Ferguson brings a successful track record of leadership positions at similar institutions and in moving universities forward in the areas that are of greatest importance to the university and the state—research, economic development, graduate studies, and enrollment,” Pattenaude explained.  “The search committee gave me several outstanding candidates and I am deeply appreciative for their excellent work.  It was not an easy choice, but I believe Dr. Ferguson will provide the experience, positive energy, and leadership that the University of Maine needs.”

Ferguson will commence work at UMaine on July 1 and will succeed Robert Kennedy who last year announced his plans to step down from the position in June.

He will receive a salary of $270,000.  This will consist of a base salary of $250,000 and additional performance-based pay of up to $20,000 per year.  In addition, $30,000 of the $270,000 will be funded by the University of Maine Foundation.  The salary for the incoming president is low by national standards for presidents of similar institutions, which in New England, range from $231,143 at the University of Rhode Island to $575,500 at the University of Connecticut, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, a higher education publication.

Ferguson, age 58, a resident of Glen Carbon, Illinois, and southern California native, earned a B.A. in Biology at Whittier College and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of California, Davis.  Since 2006 he has worked at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville where he serves as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, as well as a professor of pharmacology and toxicology.

“I am grateful to the Board of Trustees, Chancellor Pattenaude, and the University of Maine faculty, staff, and students for the confidence they have expressed in me by this decision,” Ferguson noted in a statement.  “I look forward with great enthusiasm to working with each UMaine constituency to honor this institution’s wonderful legacy serving the citizens of Maine and to set and achieve a vision for preeminence among national land-grant universities.”  Ferguson added that his wife Grace and daughter Jenny are also looking forward to be joining the University of Maine community.

At SIUE Ferguson has worked to implement academic affairs initiatives in academic quality and assessment, student success, faculty development, educational outreach, and enrollment management.  Prior to SIUE he worked at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he served in various capacities including dean, senior vice provost, and later as vice president for research and graduate studies. 

“Dr. Ferguson’s leadership experience in academic innovation, expanding research funding, and building enrollments will be fundamental as he leads the state’s flagship campus to the next level,” said Eleanor Baker of Cape Elizabeth, a UMaine alum who led the presidential search committee.  “I know I speak for the entire search committee when I say that we are all looking forward to welcoming Dr. Ferguson to the University of Maine.”

A key expectation of the new president will be to increase revenue through enhanced fund raising, increased enrollment, and expanded research funding.  Pattenaude noted that experience and skills in these areas were major factors in his choice of Ferguson.

Today’s meeting was held at the University of Maine at Augusta and several agenda items focused on that institution, including review and approval of:

  • A five-year strategic plan for UMA for the years 2011-2016;
  • A recommendation to change the name of UMA’s University College of Bangor to University of Maine at Augusta—Bangor (and a short version UMA—Bangor);
  • An academic reorganization at UMA instituted on an interim basis in July was made permanent, reducing the number of colleges from three to two (College of Professional Studies and College of Arts and Sciences);
  • A $1 million internal five-year loan from the System Office to finance a portion of UMA’s $3 million college center renovation project in Bangor, a project which will relocate, modernize, and expand the university’s dental health program as well as the dental health clinic—which serves much of eastern Maine. (The project was previously approved by Trustees in September and is also financed by nearly $650,000 from Federal Health Care & Other Facilities appropriation, $375,000 from a 2010 State bond, $50,000 from the Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation, and $25,000 from the Davis Family Foundation.) The loan preserves campus reserves for unanticipated events.

Trustees also approved tenure recommendations for faculty members, submitted by the universities; received reports on faculty and tenure statistics, financial aid, and an update on System-wide facilities.

The next meeting of UMS Trustees will take place on May 22-23 at the System Office headquarters in downtown Bangor.

About the University of Maine

The University of Maine, founded in 1865, is the state’s largest public university, located in the town of Orono. It is among the most comprehensive higher education institutions in the Northeast and attracts students from across the U.S. and more than 60 countries. It currently enrolls 12,000 total undergraduate and graduate students who can directly participate in groundbreaking research working with world-class scholars. Students are offered 88 bachelor’s degree programs, 64 master’s degree programs, 25 doctoral programs and one of the oldest and most prestigious honors programs in the U.S. The university promotes environmental stewardship on its campus, with substantial efforts aimed at conserving energy, recycling and adhering to green building standards in new construction. For more information about the University of Maine visit

About the University of Maine System

Established in 1968, the University of Maine System is the state’s largest educational enterprise. It has an annual enrollment of more than 42,000 students and serves over 500,000 individuals annually through educational and cultural offerings. Nearly two-thirds of its alumni—approximately 120,000 people—live in Maine. The University of Maine System features seven universities—some with multiple campuses—located across the state, as well as nine University College outreach centers, a law school, and an additional 75 interactive distance learning sites. For more information, visit